Wounded Warrior Project accused of lavish spending, inflating assistance
by Laura Finch
Posted 2/04/16, 08:30 am
Media and charity watchdog groups are taking aim at Wounded Warrior Project (WWP), the nonprofit juggernaut that assists wounded and disabled veterans upon their return to the U.S. Critics are assaulting the group over its spending choices—and its claims about how many veterans it serves.
The organization spent more than $34 million on fundraising in 2014. It also spends 40 percent of its budget on overhead costs, according to Charity Navigator, a nonprofit watchdog group that just placed WWP on its watch list.
In response to the criticism, WWP told commenters on its Facebook page it spends only 20 percent of its budget on overhead, and that a recent CBS News investigation contained numerous factual errors and deserves a retraction.
But Army Staff Sgt. Erick Millette, a former “warrior” and employee of the nonprofit, told CBS about excess spending on staff meetings—for example, parties with mariachi bands and branded maracas.
“Donors don’t want you to have a $2,500 bar tab. Donors don’t want you to fly every staff member once a year to some five-star resort and whoop it up and call it team building,” he said.
Nearly 40 former employees confirmed Millette’s story to CBS, some claiming “warriors” are not getting sufficient help from the organization.
Current WWP CEO Steven Nardizzi took the helm in 2008. Nardizzi’s LinkedIn profile lists many accomplishments at the organization, notably increasing revenue to more than $375 million and increasing “the constituency served” from 5,000 to 75,000.
WWP on Monday claimed 83,000 veterans have been “positively impacted” by its services. But the organization’s tax forms do not clearly state how many veterans the organization assisted, according to a former director of the IRS’ tax exempt organizations division who reviewed the documents for CBS.
Laura is a graduate of the World Journalism Institute's mid-career course.